Plan your own Brexit: The 10 easiest countries for securing EU residency

Telegraph Travel
You could be living here instead - Austria topped the list - Dieter Meyrl - www.photostat.de (Dieter Meyrl - www.photostat.de (Photographer) - [None]

Britain might be leaving the EU imminently – but that doesn’t mean you have to. Various countries on the continent have programmes that allow foreign citizens to invest their way to residency. So where best to buy into?

A study by the citizenship consultancy firm Henley & Partners analysed various programmes around the world, ranking them by value and quality, among other metrics. Here are the 10 European nations that performed best overall.

Warning: you’ll need to have plenty of spare cash to gain residency in most of these places. But these permits allow visa-free travel across the Schengen Area, which includes most EU nations.

1. Austria

Topping the list is Austria, which, according to Henley & Partners is "one of the most attractive countries in the world; an ideal combination of economic stability, a clean and safe environment, and an excellent infrastructure." It offers a number of residence and citizenship permits, including a non-work related one for "persons of independent means" provided you have liquid assets worth at least €40,000 (£33,760) and a university degree. 

Vienna, its capital, has also been ranked by Mercer as the world’s most liveable city nine years in a row. Take a look at our expert guide to a weekend in Vienna.

2. Portugal

The minimum you can get away with in Portugal, one of the oldest countries in Europe, is €500,000 (£450,000); buy a house for that price and you’re in. Alternatively, transfer €1 million (£846,000) into a Portuguese bank account or create 10 jobs in the country. 

Lisbon, perhaps? Credit: istock

The regions are distinctive, each having their own architecture, cuisine and wine. Curious? Here are 10 amazing ways to explore Portugal.

3. Italy

Invest, invest, invest. Italy’s latest visa program, which launched in 2017, requires that you either put €2 million (£1.6 million) into government bonds, donate €1 million to a philanthropic cause, invest €1 million in a private limited company, or, the budget option: a €500,000 investment into an "innovative" Italian start-up.

Italy is also well known for its rural regeneration drives, whereby homes in ghost town villages are sold for as little as €1.

Lovely Tuscany Credit: getty

4. Malta

Low tax rates (permanent residents pay just 15 per cent) and a sunny climate make Malta an attractive destination for those seeking EU citizenship. Buying a €275,000 (£232,000) property is enough to get your foot in the door. And could this country be Europe’s most underrated culinary destination? Our expert thinks so.

5. Belgium

Easy peasy. Here, merely securing a job in Belgium can be enough to qualify for residency, thus negating the need to invest. The process is on a case-by-case basis and takes from three months to complete. Fancy a visit? Don’t make like the masses and head to Bruges, says Chris Leadbeater – who has unearthed 10 surprising travel options in Belgium.

6. Switzerland

Get a job offer from a Swiss employer and you’re in, provided you can prove you are "indispensable". Otherwise, you simply have to show that you’re financially independent with sufficient income or wealth to cover your living costs. This figure varies hugely (it’s a complex system) but you can be sure it’s high.

Zurich is also currently ranked the second best city to live in by Mercer; stylish, thriving and very clean.

7. Greece

A country crying out for investment, Greece offers residency to anyone purchasing properties with a total value of at least €250,000 (£211,000), which can get you a nice little bolthole somewhere hot. And you don’t even need to live there full time; subletting is allowed, as are timeshares. This visa also allows the owner to establish a Greek business.

Very attractive indeed. Take the test: Which is the right Greek island for you?

A holiday home in Zakynthos? Credit: getty

8. Spain

Like neighbouring Portugal, resident permits for Spain can be obtained by purchasing a house worth €500,000, which will get you a lot of bricks and mortar in some parts of the country. Alternatively, aspiring residents could opt to invest €2 million in government debt. See our pick of the 14 best places to visit in Spain – and where to stay.

9. Latvia

Property again, this time to the tune of €250,000 (plus a five per cent government fee), which should be enough to get you a temporary residence permit. Like forests? You’ll be spoiled in Latvia, nearly half of which is covered in trees. Here are another 25 amazing things you probably didn’t know about Latvia.

Latvia is covered in forest Credit: getty

10. Monaco

As well as benefiting from visa-free travel across the Schengen Area, residents of Monaco are not obliged to pay income tax, capital gains tax or wealth tax. To secure residency foreigners must deposit a minimum of €500,000 into a bank account, which must stay with the bank during the residency period.

What is it like to live there? Just ask Paula Radcliffe, who says she loves waking up to a view of the Côte d’Azur. Well who wouldn’t.

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